This column I am about to write has been inspired by a few martial artists online after I stumbled across some posts regarding the combat ability of your pound for pound ratio. I’ve read some interesting ponders on a martial artists potency in their weight field. Here I will go into it and then share with you some methods that I encourage you to look at, some I have used to help me remain potent at my weight, not just for your art but life in general.
Over the years, we all have questioned or listened to what ifs and the him VS him like these…
Who would win out of Bruce Lee and Tyson?
Jet Li VS Jackie Chan?
Punching VS kicking
The list could go on but I don’t believe in politics and debates as I have erased that type of competition from my mind. Let’s get away from shadow chasing of the curious brain, because here is what the truth is or as Bruce Lee said, “My truth is not your truth.” My granddad would say to my Dad that, “A good big one will always beat a good small one.” Surprisingly enough my Dad says to me that, “A good small one will always beat a good big one.” Adding to this I was told “A good Boxer will beat a good scrapper.” And a good Scrapper will beat a good Boxer.” Where does the truth lie? Well there are a few factors to consider, the first being that my Granddad was a bigger man that my Dad so both had highs and lows in life’s survival and each from their own experience. For the world out there are environments, personal skills and ability and mind set and at times it’s just the way the wind blows. Now I do get it if comparing fighters pound for pound at the top of their game to an extent in different weight classes but again pointless, for will it ever become?
Chuck Norris once stated that, “He thought Bruce Lee, pound for pound was one of the strongest men on the planet.” Now Bruce Lee himself was a true example of pound for pound ability, if not beyond. At his weight it is clear that he could take on people bigger than him and do better than an untrained person. His strength and abilities surpassed his actual body weight and although he never competed at his peak, there are facts and feats that he did do. So what about the rest of us? The key is to be the best we can be, safely and within our limits but stretching it gradually. Martial Arts are all about movements, so pound for pound can you move to the best of your ability? Do you have a decent strength, power and skill level for your weight? If you’re a lightweight martial artist, then can you hit hard? If you’re a heavyweight can you move quick? If you look at the two warriors Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee, each was exceptional. Tyson was very quick for his size and Bruce could pack a wallop. Small fighters should hold speed and big fighters should hold power, but can they always do both to an exceptional degree?
Here’s story… A while ago a few of my work friends decided to do some arm wrestling and at that period, I was into my Isometrics. First I arm wrestled some of the bigger lads, and of course I lost, even though I put up a fight. Their limbs were bigger or longer than mine. So off I went at the end of the day disheartened inside thinking I was weaker than I thought. Then one day more people had a go and I began to win? The penny dropped after I beat 3 people, because they were the same size as me. So pound for pound I was in that moment of being stronger had I beat the bigger guys I would have surpassed myself also. I’m not saying this is the be all and end all because maybe I just copped a lucky example. Again it’s about attaining and maintaining who and what you are, think about Kickboxing champion Oliver Sykes and the power of his spinning back. Here are some methods that will keep you fit and strong without having to add muscle, most of them we are familiar with.
HONEST GRAFT – Okay, activities such as manual work and gardening. The body naturally adapts well to stabilising and lifting things. Survival and purpose based methods that feel like you’re not training when you actually are. Long walks across hills with your dog are great for the relaxation and the mind.
ISOMETRICS – Paul Vunak described a person who was strong and didn’t look it as a sleeper. This is all about training the tendons holding or pushing against things or yourself in a variety of ways. Remember to breathe and it’s better to do a little bit most days instead of over straining in a marathon session. Always do some stretching.
MARTIAL ARTS – Goes without saying that if you train yourself into a fighter or hone good self-defence skills then you have the upper hand against another at your weight that is not trained.
CALISTHENCS – Beauty & Strength. Body weight training can be a natural way to build strength endurance and a great compliment for the military and martial arts. Again there is a variety of methods but I’d suggest keeping it simple, basic and progressive. Just think, if you can do more press ups than your mate who weighs the same them pound for pound you have surpassed him. Be sure to make it healthy competition and support your partners if that where your heads at.
DYNAMIC TENSION – This moving strength method won’t get you real strong but allow you to control your existing strength and muscle control, many perform kata this way.
PLYOMETRICS – You can use power lifting to activate neuromuscular function within your body gaining explosive strength, but I’d still go with body weight moves or lighter weights. It’s your call really so stick to what works for you, and never, ever neglect the heavy bag. Plyometrics are used by many martial arts to improve speed and strength and is great for improving your output in your own weight. Please take your medicine ball if feeling under the weather, it is a great training aid.
Last but not least – STRETCHING! I don’t mean splits or anything extreme even though that is great, I mean a real world activity like cardio. Believe it or not, stretching helps you become stronger as you are lengthening the muscle. It warms you up and down and can ease aches and pains. You will experience a kind of runners high so to speak. As we age we shrink to a degree, and if you stop training for a while the two things you notice is tighter muscles and heavy breathing. Swimming can be beneficial too for martial arts, especially shadow kickboxing in water.
Often in competition, you will have your fight weight so it’s a good idea to test each other on your abilities in sparring or hitting the pads. Get a partner at your weight and compare punching and kicking power, come up with ways to improve each other. It may be a sit up contest, I rep bench press or a power side kick test. Even if you don’t compete and as you age your weight increases or decreases (as it can) then you will need to maintain some kind of level. Not just for output but for longevity and for your family. Always better to have a body that can serve you if the mess hits the fan, or you may have a job on at work. Above all, being a pound for pound fighter is really about martial skill in the stand-up game combined with conditioning. Your wins and losses will reflect this. If you just train by yourself or don’t compete, then unless you are working out with weights a lot you will stay a constant weight. At least you will have that ‘peace’ of mind that you are doing something for yourself, training is training. You cannot tell if a person is a good drawer until you see them draw a picture. Stay humble and respect the code of Budo, it’s only in the game when a martial artist’s skill should come into play.
To me though, the highest meaning of pound for pound lies not in your potency as a fighter, but as a true martial artist and his or hers positive approach to their training and others. Pound for pound… is your worth in gold coins who is a good person. Conducting yourself in the right way as much as you possibly can matter what you’re made of. Life can be challenging for us all some days, and when it does I picture Jackie Chan in Armour of God getting battered by them strange ‘ladies.’ He’s doing his best to cover and goes down onto one knee. In a fit of frustration and a quest to get through it, he fights back…
“Keep punching Apollo.”